I have recently read two very interesting books about studies and analysis on fatherhood and men's care in Europe: Fatherhood in Late Modernity e Family, Ties and Care.
I'm very happy to see that promoting fatherhood is one of the EU aims in order to build up an institutional context, in terms of norms and laws, that allows to partecipate in caring activities (for example parental leaves).
My personal hope is that people can see EU as a social development driver for all the member States, not only as a cause of economic restrictions.
Among many EU documents, it seems to me very interesting the issue of work-life balance (WLB) and the gap in fathering between words and deeds (Hobson B. and Fahlen S. “Father's Capabilities for Care: An European Perspective” in Family, Ties and Care).
Although European men declare that family time is a value in life, when analysis consider actual work hours fathers do they find out a gap between statements and practices. A large proportion of fathers works long hours (more than 40 hours per week).
Some results show that more education and perceptions of stable incomes ad job security have a significant impact on father's decision to be involved with their children.
In a period of global crisis it's very hard to balance work and life for fathers. In EU Countries there is a more insecure economic context under the pressure for flexibility and for working more hours to have a certain income level.
In order to increase the opportunities of fathers to care for children, it's essential to have an institutional context with rights to reduce hours, rights to reorganize work through flexible time and parental leaves.
These are necessary but not sufficient conditions because, according to recent studies, the opportunity to reduce work hours is almost exclusively used by women (part-time jobs). It's necessary to change a culture that assume a full-time breadwinner model.
A special thanks fot these books to:
Lisa Petzold (budrich academic, Verlag Barbara Budrich, Budrich UniPress Ltd)